Kenneth Cohen

The Megadef

After the Torah describes the sacrifice offered for one who sins inadvertently, it talks about one who sins in a brazen manner.

This particular individual is known as the מגדף, or blasphemer. He has despised and belittled the word of G-d. The Torah says that such an individual shall surely be cut off from the Jewish people, in this world and the next world.

There are many interpretations as to why this is viewed so seriously. One opinion is simply that he is an idol worshipper, or Jew who openly practices other forms of worship, that are not Judaism.

Others describe the “Megadef” as one who denies the basic principles of Judaism. He might say that the Torah is not from Heaven, or that Moshe Rabbeinu made things up, as he saw fit. He might deny the idea of the coming of Mashiach, or the resurrection of the dead.

Aside from this applying to heretical ideas, this can also apply to what appears to be less severe. Rabbi Meir, in the Talmud, says that “despising the word of G-d,” could apply to one who has Torah knowledge and doesn’t share it with others.

Rabbi Natan says this applies to one who does not review the Torah that he has studied. And Rabbi Nehorai adds that this includes one who is able to occupy himself with Torah study, and fails to do so.

We must not forget the gift known as our Torah. We must embrace it, and study it diligently. We will then have a better knowledge of the word of G-d. We will be able to experience its beauty, and love it and all of its teachings, the very opposite of the Megadef.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at